New York Jets' Brad Smith (16) and Jerricho Cotchery (89)...

New York Jets' Brad Smith (16) and Jerricho Cotchery (89) celebrate Smith's return of the opening kickoff for a touchdown. (Dec. 19, 2010) Credit: AP

FLORHAM PARK, N.J. - Jerricho Cotchery eyed the scoreboard and then the opponents, studying their every move.

He watched the Patriots slap hands and hug in the final seconds of that devastating Monday night game, refusing to leave the field until he soaked in every last detail.

Cotchery and the rest of the Jets stood their ground as the snow came down, staring bitterly at the image on the JumboTron of Patriots dancing. The 45-3 rout was the Jets' most lopsided loss since 1986. But still, the Jets were resolute. They had a feeling they'd eventually get a chance to settle the score.

"All of us knew it," Cotchery said Tuesday of the team's return to Foxborough for Sunday's AFC divisional-round game. "That was the main thing everyone was saying: 'Keep it in your heads. Watch everything toward the end of the game . . . because we're going back up there.' And we're going back this week."

Rex Ryan took full responsibility for the Dec. 6 debacle, calling his game plan overly complicated. But his players wouldn't let the coach shoulder the blame alone.

"That's kind of him," center Nick Mangold said. "Rex isn't out there blocking and tackling."

"I take the blame for it, as well," nose tackle Sione Pouha said. "I think every man takes the blame for himself.''

Receiver Braylon Edwards said, "He gets outcoached, we get outplayed, we lose."

Ryan admitted that Patriots coach Bill Belichick was better prepared last time. But as was the case last week with Colts quarterback Peyton Manning, Sunday's game is "personal" for Ryan.

"This week is about Bill Belichick against Rex Ryan," he said. "There is no question. . . . This is going to be about me raising my level against Bill Belichick."

Those comments elicited rather tame reactions Tuesday from his players, who are used to the sideshow.

"It's just the guy Rex is," cornerback Antonio Cromartie said with a laugh. "He made it personal last week with Peyton and the Colts. If you look at it, it's all about being the right coach at the right time."

Pouha said he appreciates Ryan's passion and stands by "whatever our coaches say."

"We're right next to him," Pouha said. "We're just as passionate. If you're not passionate at this point of the season, with these things at stake, something's wrong."

Edwards, on the other hand, seemed ambivalent about Ryan's comments.

"It's his comment," Edwards said. "It doesn't get me excited and I didn't say, 'Oh, that's what it's about.' I know what the game's about and what it's going to come down to. I don't think either one of those guys are suiting up. It'll be on us on the field."

The Jets insist the rematch will have different results. It's a brand new season, Cromartie said.

"They beat us, 45-3," Cotchery said. "That doesn't sit well with anybody in this room. We know we didn't play up to our standards on that night and they took advantage of that. "Our goal at the beginning of the year - and still is - is to win a Super Bowl. And this is another step."

Added Cromartie: "We could care less about who gives us a shot. They didn't give us a shot last week."

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